History of Cogglesford Watermill

Cogglesford Watermill is an historic mill thought to be the only Sheriff’s watermill still in operation in the country.

Cogglesford watermill

The word ‘sheriff’ evolved from the words ‘shire’ and ‘reeve’. The Reeve was an agent or official of the Lord of the Manor (or Shire) who collected the payment from local people who were obliged to have their grain ground at Cogglesford Watermill (for a fee!)

Cogglesford Watermill is a rare survivor from a river that once boasted some 18 watermills at the time of the Domesday Book. It belongs to a group of mills considered to be most valuable from Lincolnshire, and amongst the most important in the country.

The “Coggle Ford”, after which the Mill was named, is a few yards further east, where Mareham Lane, a prehistoric track way and Roman road, crossed the River Slea.

The 'Sleaford Navigation' came in to being between 1792-94 and transformed the fortunes of the remaining mills in the area. Vessels carrying corn could now navigate into the heart of Sleaford enabling it to be delivered directly to the mill. The meal and flour could then be produced and transported in bulk across the network and beyond.

Although the present mill was probably built around 1750, with the top floor added in the 1840s to store grain, millers have produced flour on this site, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book, since C 700AD.

One of the things that fascinates visitors is the graffiti marked on the Mill – some of it dates back to 1663! It was a tradition for millers to carve their names into the old wooden beams and the door frames. Not all of them are dated but in some cases, the names of the millers and the dates of the carvings are present. You can also see the original tally marks in the external stone walls where millers kept a tally of the number of sacks of grain being used.

Up to the present day

Two sets of mill stones

By 1885, the current mill had ceased full working and eventually fell into a serious state of neglect. It was rescued from collapse in 1991 by North Kesteven District Council and restored to full working order.

The Grade II listed three-storey mill has an internal wooden waterwheel and two sets of millstones which visitors can watch in operation on special event days.

When the grain is lifted, using a hoist mechanism, to the top floor it ascends through the original trapdoors complete with their leather hinges which are over 160 years old.

Until recently the mill used Derbyshire grit stones to produce delicious wholemeal flour. Following frequent requests for white flour, a second set of millstones was installed alongside the grit stones and the mill now sells ‘unbleached white flour’.

The new stones, known as 'French Burr' stones are made of fresh-water quartz from the Marne valley in northern France. The quartz has a much harder, smoother surface than the grit stone and grinds the grain into a finer flour. This is then passed through a ‘bolter’ which sieves the flour and extracts the course outer part of the grain – the bran, leaving the ground wheatgerm and endosperm. The flour is sold in the shop where you can also find locally produced honey and preserves alongside beautifully crafted wood and souvenirs.

This is available in different languages. Please see the downloads below. If you would like an alternative language, please contact the tourism team on 01529 308102 or email cogglesfordwatermill@n-kesteven.gov.uk.